You Are The Answer
There is so much to be said about 2020 and the first half of 2021. It would not be a far stretch to say that many have experienced more losses in the past eighteen months than they have ever known in their lifetimes. The global pandemic and the national pandemonium (centered around the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others) have taken their toll on many who have heeded the warnings of Dr. Fauci, the Center for Disease Control and the voices of the Black Lives Matters movement. Wearing protective gear and social distancing have become the norm for many people, even as our country begins to resume her regularly scheduled programming after the aggressive efforts to vaccinate our nation. My thoughts, really questions, remain in 2021 as they did at the dawn of this new day in our world, “What is God saying, and how should His church respond?”
Leading PreacherWoman virtually has been both a blessing and a burden. It has forced me to tune in closer to what Holy Spirit is saying. I have been divinely positioned to be more creative while being exhausted by the thought of yet another Zoom gathering! LOL!! While I chuckle now, for months, I could easily be found in my office with tears streaming down my face asking the Lord to shift, if He would not lift, the weight of carrying the load of this assignment during this unprecedented time. Much of what we know to be PreacherWoman extends beyond the teaching and reaching; it is an experience.
The benefit of attending monthly sessions was not just the expectation of the explanations and proclamations of the word of God. It was always, intentionally, meant to be a place of safe sharing and personalized caring. Regardless of which of the four modules you were assigned, being in a safe place to share without prejudice has indeed been a large part of the gathering. It was the experience of the welcoming expressions on the faces of our sisters as they entered the fellowship hall, surveying the space to see just what our National Director of Special Events and Programs and her team had extraordinarily created. It was the sound of long overdue laughter and the vision of smiles that may have been restricted in other settings. The smiles that said:
· “Thank God I made it……here.”
· “I missed my sisters.”
· “I need a hug.”
· “I’m going through, and I need someone here to get behind me and push me in the spirit.”
Yeah, those smiles!
Like many of you, the multiple roles we normally play with some level of ease had become substantial and, in some cases, stifling for me. For my entire life God has used children as buffers for me when I have been burdened or felt broken. Maneuvering through these past eighteen months without a hug from the children I love has felt like torture for me. Being extremely cautious when encountering my nearly eighty-year-old mother meant no hugs, no kisses, just an elbow bump or dropping off groceries on her porch and talking from the driveway. Yeah, I think we can all say, 2020 and the first half of 2021 have tried every fiber of our existence.
Not having in-person worship services has also contributed to my creative exhaustion. Although our church went from total virtual to having less than ten people in the building on Sundays, there was still so much missing. Can you believe I missed people walking and talking during Worship? LOL! No choir or praise team activity. No dance or music rehearsals. The church building was almost a museum. I dreaded going to my church office, and that is unheard of. Many know how much I love the solace of my office.
Before the pandemic, I loved going to the building to pray alone and to be alone. I would sit for hours writing sermons, reviewing notes, cleaning the building so I could get a breakthrough when mentally blocked. I just loved the building God entrusted to our care. It seemed like I heard God real clear, and His voice would be so pristine and undeniable. I would relish in our time because it was our uninterrupted time. Not so in the past eighteen months.
However, in all of the downs, there was one up that I could not, and cannot, and will not overlook……YOU!
What then did all of this look like for PreacherWoman, when we were forced to cancel plans for a three-day retreat in Branson, an awards gala honoring some of St. Louis’ finest preaching women, move from in-person monthly meetings to virtual sessions via the ZOOM app? Would you all still show up? Would your commitments waiver? Would you remain as faithful without being fed from Pastor Cecile’s beautiful monthly buffet? Once Dr. Haire became unable to teach would you come to feed, and if necessary, lead? When Dr. Mims’ module needed a substitute as she attended to the needs of her church, how would you respond? If Pastor Rogers had to be off because of caring for her husband while he recovered, would you understand? What would happen?
PreacherWoman did not just survive during the pandemic, we THRIVED! You all not only showed up (many have not missed a session), but you showed out! Your attendance increased, and so did your giving. When the camera went off and each of us went about the remainder of our day after the virtual sessions, I would generally end up in a worship session with God! Thanking Him for each and every one of you! Because of you, we are finally able to officially launch the Texas and Chicago chapters. Because of you, we are able to prepare to add a chapter in Arizona! Not only were you present monthly, but you were present in the spirit realm. I have felt your prayers. I have received your cards, calls, words of encouragement. I have felt your virtual hugs and have been motivated by your persistence during this unchartered time.
It is because of YOU, that WE are able to move PreacherWoman by accepting God’s favor and increase in national membership! Thank you for being God’s answer to my questions, “What is God saying, and how should His church respond?” His answers were clear in you. I have found my answers in His word found in I Corinthians 15:58, Amplified Bible: “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose]”.
Thank YOU for being the answer!